If the house church is so great, why aren't there more of them?
I think a valid line of inquiry into 9Marks' surrounds their target audience. As far as I can tell, they are not too concerned with soteriology and instead focus on attracting other churches to follow their methods and theology. This is a big contrast from the missions world and movement oriented strategies. They have a well-defined ecclesiology that appears to be made for, and consumed by, a specific segment of Evangelical church leaders. It is very appealing to pastors when a framework places pastoral ministry at the center of church. The heavy doctrinal emphasis with very little evangelism to go along with this is one reason I feel this way. They also have a strong "insider/outsider" dynamic. Churches with evangelistic DNA are much more porous, with non-believers being exposed to the love between brothers and sisters (John 13:34-35). This is one thing the missional church movement got right.
I have come to realize that the word "proclamational" is partly incorrect as it implies that the Gospel message is being proclaimed. That would be true only in the sense that the "Gospel" here is being defined broadly. Most of the "proclamational" preaching being done at churches is Bible teaching, not evangelistic. Making an alter call is not sufficient in a culture which lacks the foundational truths that used to make alter calls possible.
Regarding discipleship, I agree with you. How many studies on revealing "thin discipleship" do we need to have before we recognize these problems and make adjustments? The loudest voices here are winning the day right now.
One problem is the confidence with which the US church believes that have gotten it "right." I lack that confidence. The church in the US has deep problems which requires our attention. Doubling down on the ineffective models we have may be appealing to those trapped inside them, but they will leave the church irrelevant. I don't mean culturally irrelevant here. I mean irrelevant to the lost, the undiscipled, and to pilgrims like myself.
Thank you Ted. I appreciate the nuance you bring to the conversation. It is worth noting, as well, that the microchurch phenomenon in the US is mostly comprised of believers (many of them who are very mature in their faith) who are simply disenchanted with the prevailing model. This is quite different than movements in unreached contexts which are made up of new believers and not yet believers. This begs the question of institutionalization and institutionalism and how that affects our ecclesiology. Are microchurches really reaching unbelievers in the Global North? There are of course some great stories and a few positive examples, but most of the new people I am meeting in microchurches have been believers for a long time.
Most movements happen in collectivistic societies; can they happen at the same scale in highly individualistic contexts (like the US)? Social structure seems to play a huge role in this conversation. We simply don't have an oikos like the NT had and the Majority world has today.
Additionally, in Chapter 1 of Motus Dei I made the point that DBS has both strengths and weaknesses. Movements people (at least the successful catalysts I know) understand the limitations of the Socratic model, and thus there are a lot of training events for leaders. But do pastor-centric churches understand the limitations of didactic sermonizing? Small group Bible studies do help, some. But institutional ecclesiology, even among Evangelicals in the US seems not to be making mature disciples with solid theology. Look at the https://thestateoftheology.com/ question #7, 43% of US Evangelicals don't affirm the deity of Christ. We are perfectly designed to be getting the results we are getting.
I'm looking forward to part 2! Thanks again, Ted.